August 30, 2016

Rakhine’s coastal waters still plagued by off-shore fishing vessels

Fishing vessels are seen in Sittwe, Rakhine State.
Fishing vessels are seen in Sittwe, Rakhine State.

The illegal entry of off-shore fishing vessels into Rakhine State’s shallow, coastal waters has reportedly see a depletion in amount of fish being caught by near-shore fisherman, Myitmakha News Agency has been informed.
The Department of Fisheries has demarcated a territory ten-miles from the shore as an area exclusive to near-shore fishing vessels, but off-shore vessels are reportedly entering to fish in this area along Rakhine’s coastal regions of Kyaukphyu, Sittwe, Thandwe, Gwa and Manaung, regardless.
“In fact, the area within ten-miles from the shore has been demarcated [as a no-fishing zone for off-shore vessels]. Now, though, and we’re seeing a large number of local and foreign off-shore fishing vessels enter into this territory to catch fish. Such activities have reduced the size of the area for smaller, near-shore vessels to conduct their fishing activities, as well as causing instances of over fishing. I want some kind of effective scrutiny to be carried out on these trespassers,” said U Thein Soe Aung, a near-shore fisherman from Kyaukphyu Township.
Marine experts have voiced that the off-shore fishing vessels in question originate from other parts of the country, as far south as Dawei in Tanintharyi Region, while some of the fishing vessels are reportedly Thai fishing trawlers, banned by the Department of Fisheries, who employ the use fish nets with small openings – a primary cause of depleting fish stocks.
“Depending upon the weather, for sure, there are instances of off-shore fishing vessels coming in to fish closer to shore. But, it’s my belief the real culprits of depleting fish stocks are those Thai vessels who fish with dense nets; employing these nets sees smaller species of fish and tiddlers get unnecessarily caught,” said U Khin Aye Maung, a seasoned fisheries businessman from the town of Kyaukphyu.
The capacity of Myanmar’s fisheries industry has visibly declined in the last decade, along with the incomes of those working within it, according to a statement released by a large-scale alliance organization concerned with Rakhine State’s fisheries industry.
“Near-shore fisherman, please also only catch fish within ten-miles from the shore. A policy was passed which permitted off-shore fishing vessels to fish further out than ten-miles from the coastline. But, the Myanmar Navy are the only ones with the authority to take legal action against such off-shore fishing vessel perpetrators who clandestinely catch fish within the ten-mile territory,” a staff of the Department of Fisheries for Kyaukphyu Township told Myitmakha News Agency.
According to a report published by a Norwegian organization, only 10 percent of surface-level fish and 35 percent of seabed fish remain within Myanmar’s coastal waters.


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